When you think about people who are working in the real estate industry, you most likely imagine an industry dominated by men. Even in movies and TV shows, the real estate agent or a successful investor is almost always a man. Seeing women in real estate isn’t something everyone expects. This alone is enough to scare an ambitious female from funneling into this career.
However, the truth is different. The residential real estate industry in US is dominated by women. The National Association of Realtors reported in May 2018 that 63% of registered realtors are women. Few years earlier, in 2011, Trulia conducted a research which showed that in every single state there are more women real estate professionals than men. However, similar to many other professions, it wasn’t always like that and there is a history behind women in real estate.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) was founded in 1908, and in the beginning you had to be male to enter. However, even at this time, there were more than 3000 women working as brokers! Their first female member was Corrine Simpson, who joined in 1910.
Why were there so many women in real estate? The reason is simply and can be put in one word. Money. At the beginning of the 20th century, the only places where women could work and earn a fine salary were factories. This is why, when the technology advanced, women decided to find ‘safer’ positions in the offices. Selling houses seemed like the right deal.
Although NAR and similar organizations never explicitly banned women, they did require local real estate board memberships – and these boards did put a ban on female members. This is why women were forced to create their own professional organizations – one of the oldest ones being “Realyttes’ from Portland.
The Great Depression
Sadly, when The Great Depression started, many women lost their jobs. It is estimated that around two-thirds of women in real estate had to change jobs between 1930 and 1940. This is because the houses simply weren’t selling, and women had families to look after.
However, in the ‘40s, when the VA-loans have been established, women were back in business. This was further improved after the World War II, as women have proved to be capable of achieving success during the war.
Second Half of the 20th Century
Another big leap for women in real estate happened in 1973, when NAR allowed real estate sales agents to join as well. This was a huge step, as this meant more women could become members. Soon enough, in 1978, more than half of the members were women. By 1980, there were more than 300,000 women working as real estate agents. That was 45% of the industry at that time!
Why were women so attracted to working in the industry? The reason was the same as before. They could earn a lot, while also having enough time to be with their children and to take care of their home obligations.
Women in Real Estate Today
Women are still prevalent in the real estate industry. There are many successful women real estate agents and real estate investors. Studies show that single elderly women are the leaders when it comes to real estate investing. The number of females buying houses is increasing, despite all the challenges women face. Even if a man is the one buying the house, often times there is a woman behind him who is searching for the right house, the right agent, sometimes even providing the initial down payment. However, it’s different when it comes to the commercial real estate.
The study was conducted in 2015 by Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), and it showed that only 23% of leasing and sale brokers were women. This isn’t the only problem women in real estate face, as women are faced with sexual harassment, wage gap and other discrimination.